The Balance of Forces in Central Europe
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Co ntro do*/Con iuaInformolionNFIB Daparfmontt Only Diitemlnation ond EaVoclion of Inlormolion
ControHtd by C- glnoltw TWi InlofmoHon haiAuthorlitd fo*
The Balance of Forces in Central Europe
On fin/ Inlelbgmrr Atmey Dtinlotatf of iMftU/enre
balance of miliiary power iu Central Hurope-especially as it contributes toilicrc-is not fragile. NATO's military deterrence is mult'faceted, being based on conventional forces as well as tactical and strategic nuclearhift in thebalance great enough to significantlydeterrence In Europe would require achievementajor technologicalby one sideajor shift in numerical force ratios.
umber of factors have been operating over the past few years to alter the military balance to NATO's disadvantage. These factors include:
Quantitative and qualitative growih of Soviet tactical nuclear forces. Over the past several years, the Pact has matched NATO in the number of tactical aircraft and missile launchers deployed In Central Europe and intended for nuclearissions. Within the next few-yean,.the Sovietswill field nuclcar-cupablc tube artillery there,ongstanding NATO
Modernisation andaugmentation of Soviet conventional forces'. Since the, Soviei conventional forces have begun to receive equipment as sophisticated asdeployed NATO weaponry. This Is particularly true of aircraft. The new pieces of ground and air equipment an* replacing older items on atnc-for-onc basis.
Continued Soviet political and economic commitment to improving the Pact's miliiary force posture. Economic pressures haveover lhc past few years on both ETstcrn and Western governments, but it does not appear 'hat the Soviets or their allies arc considering cuts In military spending to relieve such pressures, as many NATOarc doing.
While NATO stilleasure of tactical nuclear superiority in Central Europe by.f Its exclusive possession of nuclear artillery there and the quality of lis tactical surface-to* surface missiles, the overwhelming advantage which it had in the sixties is being erodedoviet Improvements. The Sovietseckon that the strengthening of Iheirheater nuclear forces has reduced the political :as well as military utility of such forcesATO. When the Soviets break the NATO monopoly on nuclear artillery in Centralthe deterrent value of these weapons will also be reduced. Moreover, the numericalwould swing lo the Pact If forces based outside Central Europe, but likely to be targeted against Central Europe; were included in the balance. These periplterjl strike forces also arc being Improved qualitatively.
The balance of conventional forces also seems to he gradually shifting. Military analysts have long considered that NATOechnological lead that offset the Pact'ssuperiority in conventional forces. Trends hove emerged over the past several years, however, which suggest that tho Pact Is reducing its technological handicap.
erceptible shift of tho theater force balance In the Warsaw Pact's favor, deterrence in Central Europe, from the military standpoint, docs not appear immediatelyTho Pact's gains must be viewed In the context of Its own perception of need, as dictated by its political and economic weakness and Its self-imposed requirement to be ready to attack, not merelyorce level that is considered adequate by the Pacteeting Pact requirementsotential conflict with NATO) may seem excessive by WesternSoviet planners also continue to be faced with what they sec as an impressive NATO defense that they could not count on defeating and with uncertainty about whether theforces of both sides could be kept outar in Europe.
The most serious results of the shift in the balance of forces in Central Europe could arise from both sides' perception of that evolving balance. Thererowing but largelyimpression in the West that rhe vigorous, ongoing Soviet modernization effortajor conventional arms buildup which has caused tho balance .to shift radically. Some parliamentarians might believe that .the Pact has pulled so far ahead in conventional forcess not economically or politically feasible for NATO to try to catch up. They would argue that It Is useless, therefore, for NATO to spend money on conventional forces and that the Alliance should return to the massive retaliation doctrine of the fifties to deter Pact aggression. But, given the Soviet achievement of nuclear parity, the "tripwire" doctrine has even less credibility now than when it was discarded.
Moreover, should it become widely accepted that the balance has dramatically shifted, this view could depress NATO confidence and In turn increase Soviet assertive ncss. Such acould ultimately increase the risk of war through Soviet miscalculation.
The nature of thealance in Europe hasradual evolution over the past two decades. Between the laic fifties and early seventies, both the US and the USSR saw intercontinental strike forcesredominant factor in (hat balance. Perceptions of the significance of theater forces and of disparities in those forces were tempered by both sides' view that nny confrontation in Europe would soon escalateutually dcstrucllvc intcr-coutincntnl nuclear exchange by the two powers.
Gradual changes in the doctrine, strategy. (Kites, and armament of the Warsaw Poet nnd NATO have now combined to give theater forccs-bolh conventional andprominence in any assessment of the military balance In Europe, Doth sides recognize that the achievement of rc-gli strategic parity between the USSR and the US raises doubts about whether cither side would use Intercontinental weapons toar In Europe.w consider thatar might not precipitate an ItUcrcontincntal nuclear exchange andarger fraction of the burden of deterring or defeating aggression must fill on theater forces.
This appreciation of theater forces has focused attention on the status of the WarsawATO balance of such forces and on the ways in which the Pact might tip the balance in its favor. This study examines the air and ground Puces In Central Europe In light of somec most salient quantitative andqualitative factors, addresses strengths and weaknesses of both sides, ond assesses (rends afTecIing Ihe future balance there.
Deterrence and Military Planning in Europe
The three postwar decades inontinent traditionally beset by major ware, have beeny coups, violentin the East, several crises in Berlin wilh attendant ultimatums, and even armedBul none of these incidents resulted in armed conflict between the two major power blocs.
This uncasv peace can be attributedumber of. political, economic, and miliiary factors, but the principal military deterrent tins been uncertainty as to the scope and outcome of any conflict, given its potentially cataclysmic nature. This concern is inherent in lhcof nuclear weapons to both sides and the apparent capability of each side to inflict catastrophic damage on (he other. Under these circumstances, the sideeliberate decision toajor war in Europe would do so only if it perceived war as the only available option to-"protect its vital interests. Nor would cither side undertake an action short of war that seemed likely to threaten(he vital Interests of the other.
Either side might undertake operations-constrained In geography or in the lype weapons(he intent of limitingonsequences, but neither coidd beonflict would remain confined. TilC
well-defined alliances in Europe provide asign Ihuieographically limited attack could quickly involve lhc entire weight of the defending alliance. And NATO doctrine asserts that Puct aggression against one of its members would be met with whatever level of force-including nuclear weapon*-that wasto bring the conflict to an acceptable conclusion.
Ilotb sides have maintained large forces in Central Europe' for more thanears. Although each considers itself toefensive alliance intended lo deter or defend against an attack by the other, the warfighling concepts of each differ widely. NATO's overall mililary planning reflects the defensive nature of lhc Alliance, whereas that of lhc Pact reflect* the goal of being able to seize (he strategic initiative once war seems inevitable or toapid counterattack if NATO should strike first.
This aspect of Pact doctrine probably slemsesolve not to repent ihe historical Russian experience ofostly retreatounleroffensivc can be mounted against an overextended enemy. The shock andof the Pad offensive would be intended to prevent NATO forces from preparing for an offensive orixed defensive line, thereby forcing the Pact into prolongedwarfare. Subsequent objectives would be to break into the NATO rear to disruptseize channel ports Io preventand destroy NATO military forces.
Soviet doctrine's requirement foriiium rical superiority derives largely from Ihe experience of World War II. Beforeth.'ir counterattack in3 during the battle of Kursk, for example, the Soviets achieved overall advantagesnnn artillery,n combat aircraft. During later stages or the
1 rwn-rd ii rvumark. irxMUnd. ind CfMhotfcmiU.
war. when more manpower ami equipment were available, the Soviets often did nut attack until they had achieved force nil.s highn men, tanks, and urlillcry.
Soviet doctrineonventional offensive still calls for achieving an overwhelmingadvantageew sectors of the enemy's defense line. Curreni Pact planning for attacks agamsl well-prepared defensescalls for advantages ol upn men and as highn tanksn artillery. In light of the offensive cast to Pact planning, the numerical advantages required by Soviet doctrine, and the high regard Ihe Pad has for NATO's capabilities. Pact planners probably consider what the West seesreponderance of Pact forces in Europe to be at best adequate for the "defense" of the Pact, but certainly not excessive.
Neither NATO nor the Warsaw Pactils theater forces at full strength in peacetime, and each would have lo undergo extensive mobilization to put its forcesartime fooling. Both could quickly bring their standing combat forces up to full wartime strength, bul some ofNATO ground forces in northernrequire substantial redeployment to reach their wartime operating areas. Both sides also intend to reinforce in Central Europe in wartime-NATO from the US. UK. and probably France: the Pact from the western USSR.
Warsaw Pact Strategy
To achieve the rbrcc ratios deemed necessary to accomplish its objcciiscs. lhc Pact ha* evolved mobilization and attack concepts (hat arc Intended to maximize initial combat power-on the assumptionar in Europe would be short and. therefore, deckled largely by forces in being or quickly available.
Accordingly, those forces in place in Central Europe (about half of Ihem East Europeans)
would be required to defend against any NATO assault, initiate the Pact's offensive campaign and, bypassing strong resistance, carry the campaign well into NATO territory before reinforcements would atrivc from the western USSR.2
Pact planning for the Central European theater evidently calls for three frontsolish front to theovietEast Germanhe center, and afront in the south. Upon breaking through initial defenses in their area, the Poles would be responsible for advancing intoand across northern Germany and the Benelux countrict' to the ports on (he North Sea and English Channel. The forces of the SovietEast German front arc the strongest; once these forces penetrated NATO defenses, the two tank armies nf this front would launch rapid thrusts to secure crossings over the Rhine near Essen and Frankfurt. The' Czechoslovak-Soviet front would attack into southern Germary, probably to tie down strong US and German forces there. Additional fronts', formed from divisions and army-level units in the western USSR, wouldecond-echelon force forand subsequent operations in the depth of the theater.
The tenets of mass and shock which govern Pact planning for the ground campaign carry over into air planning as well. The Pact would seek to commit an overwhelming force ofaircraft and bombers to attack NATO air forces on the groundecisive campaign at the very outset of hostilities. The objectives would be to achieve air superiority trom the start and to limit the capabilities of NATO's tactical air forces to affect the conventional ground battle or to deliver nuclear strikes in later stages of the conflict. Another objective would be to Jcstroy as much of NATO's
ullir dUtuuion of Serial orxriflonal.pl*nnlit|wmr U> Cantral Euro**,
CemtepnAn inn NATO In Cenml Europe, Muchround-based tactical nuclear capability aspriorATO nuclear decision.
NATO doctrine, on Ihc other hand, eschews general offensive designs, embracing instead the establishmenttrong defensive line well forward. This defense, to be mannedby ready US and West German divisions, would be intended to buy time foron the use of nuclear weapons-and toact offensive until NATO could realize its mobilization potential, reinforce its defenfe, counterattack, and force the attackers back into Pact territory.
NATO's doctrine of flexible response is intended to permit fine tuning. It holdsact conventional attack would be met with conventional forces. If conventional defenses were being overwhelmed, small-scale nuclear strikes could be launched to blunt Pactthrusts, demonstrate NATO's resolve, and serve notice to Pact leaders that the conflict was about tcastly more destructive turn. If this failed to halt the assault. NATO's stated doctrine calls for gradual escalation cf the use of nuclear weapons to whatever level war. required to halt Utc uttack.
The Status of Theater Forcei
Although NATO's military potential greatly exceeds that of the Warsaw Pact, particularly in terms of mobilization base nnd overallcapacity, dhe Pact currently has more men in uniform than NATO (sec figurendarger military force in the critical Central European region. In keeping with their doctrineilitary conflict In Europe would be decided by forces in being or readily mobilized, the Soviets and their allies appear to have committed themselves to maintaining asuperiority over NATO In Central Europe in in such key theater-force elements as men, lanks, artillery pieces, and combat aircraft.
Selected Indices of
NATO and Warsaw Pact Military Potential
and Labor Force (Miiiiom)
Total Armed Forces (Thousand-.)
Idbncc on numcricul comparisons alone, however, can yield simplistic ami misleading results. Greater numbers alone do noi assure either deterrence or victory. Qualitative factors can affect the oulcumc of wars more than numbers of men or wcupons, and such factors must be taken into account toeliable perception of lhc balance. In addition to political and economic factors, such things as reliability, readiness, organization, geography, technology, and (he ability of each side to direct and support its military forces in wartime strongly influence Ihe balance. The following sections treat the comparison of Pact and NATO forces in this broader qualitative
Reliability, The Pact's numerical advantage in ground forces in Central Europe (sec table I) is tempered by the questionable reliability of the East European forces. The Rust Germans. Czechoslovaks, and Poles provide nearly half of the Pact's manpower and more than half of its divisions in Central Europe, ycl Ihey probably would respondotal military commlt-
WNpnm1 StirUw-ln-Alt Mlwlle
1 Eicliklrt national air liefente penunnel and national admuililra-Ilw Mall*oliih and Wrrt German lerrilorial (oree*
ummary ol ilia difference* lie* wen NATOaruw Pa* dM*mi
' Gum and multiple rocket laumKr.i.
' (inn* aud mlullnHeri or ronro wtilrhrimary antitank mlotni. Fn'nlr* mlxlW mounted onrarrtrn
w Pact Forest Wnl Germany, In East Germany.
onlylear and present danger to (heir homelands. Nevertheless. Soviet doctrine calls for these forces toritical offensive role:
Sovtcls would countacks by Polish forces in the north and Czccnoslovak units in ihe soulh lo lie down large NATO forces nnd permit Ihe concentration of Soviet
1 and East German forces in the critical central sector.
;The major Pad lines of communication from the USSR run through Poland. Hast Germany, and Czechoslovakia, and nationals of these countries are chiefly responsible for operating and maintaining tltein.
European air defenses arc intended to provide forward air defense for the western USSR and to protect the Pact's logistic and rear area support.
Refusal by any East European ally tofully in an offensive ag-unst NATO would severely lessen Pact capabilities. Soviet forces located on the territory of the recalcitrant ally would be tied down with "policing" and with logistic transport responsibilities, and the Soviets probably would have to bring inforces from Ihe USSR prior to hostilities, thus affording NA'i'O addilional warning and reaction time.
Leadership. The proficiency and leadership of tactical unit commanders, especially atand company levels, Is another potential limitation of Soviet -and presumably other Pact-ground forces. Analysis of Pact tvritings reveals widespread concern within the Soviet military over the quality of its junior leadership cadre.'
r'fle an analyal* of thta inh]rrl, irraT
Sridrrthtp CWce, US.'Army Imaliiarnee Thrtai AnatyM icnriiantjA,
Much of the concern of senior Soviet miliiary leaders is over the iack of initiative in tactical
operahotis stemming Irom lhc riniilily of lhc Soviei command structure ami lhc stereotyped nature of tactical training. Apparently lhc militaryas been unable lo resolve tlte conflict betweenl imagination on the one hand and lite need for "undeviating ade lo regulations and inst metn the oilier.
n Control Eutope Table 2
Ter*tinrinl Defrnw r'orern
NATO Warww del
Orgtadzallon and Logistics.orce-wide basisand Pact con bat-lo -support raiios are mighty the same: aboulercent of each side's ground fo.ee manpower is assigned to frontline units (divisions, uondivlsionalunits, and combat-support units) andercent lo support elements (seet division level, however, thereumber of differences between the iwo sides, including thef Pact divisions relative to NATO's, combat equipment levels, and slaying power.
Taken lojKllKr, those factors bniii: intuthe utilityimple comparisons orof divisions.
By virtue of their larger size, most NATO divisions have more eonihat andmanpowerarger inventory' of most types of combat equipmeni than their Pact counterparts (secS and West German divisions, for example, have more armored vehicles and generally more antitank weapons than Soviet divisions, and German armored divisions have more artillery. In the number of tanks, however. Soviet divisions are roughly equal fo Iheir NATO counterparts.
The relative capabilities of NATO and Pact ground forces, in quantitative terms, arebest expressedunction of the number of armored division equivalentsach side hasy this measure, each NATO and Pact combat unit is rated according to astandard which is based onuantity and qualily of its combat UrCtfpOOS. Theapplication of ADF. scores to niajw'r NATO
5 An ADF.nit of mnwifrialeamuhal unit, tou.nrl.rd US aimo-edn.drpet of equivalency It dnnmlnedlonihlnlnf Ihe nnll'i Inial numhet of (round comhni mapmu and thr uualtlieh weapon In inmi of firepower, miihlllii. andrpBralr Altl'.calculated for iht imll In Ih* oftVnw and the defense. The
-ot ihUilhai NATO and del farce*
on lhc offense half of ihr time and nn defense Ihe niher half.
and Pact combat units (when mobill7.ed lostrength) In Central Europe yields theumerical advantage in ADEs over NATO as opposed todvontogc in numbers of divisions.
The organi ratio nil structures of Pact and NATO divisions also reflect fundamental doc-trlnul differences, particularly with respect to logistic support. Soviet doctrine stressesfirepower over organic logistic support capabilities. Unlike NATOact forces ore not organized with the extensive support Structure ot battalion level and below that bt nccctaury to provide divisional units withstaying power (seche Pact would rely upon second-echelon and reserve forces to repir.ee frontline units worn down by NATO defenses (in otherATC. on the other hand, stresses Independent slaying power nnd unit integrity. NATO divisional combat units have more extensive organic logctic support and would rely chiefly on replacing individuals, not units.
The Pact's weaker logistic support atlevel and below would likely beell-prepared NATO defenserolonged conventional war.nit replacement policy would be advantageousucleur war. the need to bring in fresh units as others were worn down might disrupt the momentum of an offensiveonflict. NATO divisions in the defense, on tile other hand, would be less likely to suffer the confusion that often accompaniesactical environment.
Combatarge fraction of both NATO and Pact groundomc ol their divisions and much of their rear-rrca support and command-and-control structure-woulda major increase in personnel to reach wartime strength.6 Of thearsaw Pact
*>iw iliedeployrnenl anJ readlneaa pn-iute of NATO aod Waraaw Patl dlvhlont.map on pare IS.
divisions in Cento] Europe.re estimated to be maintained at betweenndercent of their intended wartime strength. These divisions eotdd be filled out in aboutours, but it would require four days to gel them and the bulk of those support forces essentialoordinated offensive, which aa* maintained at aboul half strength or below, into position. Even then, this force would still lack some noudivisional service support, and initialami-control capabilities would be low.
The remaining Pact divisions in Centralcould be filled out in aboulours, but it would like al least eight days from theof Pact mobilization before allivisions and the army- and front-level support elements were in position to launch an offensive.
Tlte greatest incremental increase in Pact manpower and ilivisions would result from reinforcement by theoviet divisions in Ihe Baltic. Bclorussian. and Carpulhiuii Military Districts of the western USSR. These divisions and their support structure probably could mobilize, move lo Eastern Europe, and be ready for offensive operations in about two weeks.
With concurrent prcparations-orarning lag of one or two days, which is more likely-NATO could rapidlyredible defenseact offensive. Within about two days. NATO could expect to have up toivisions and eight separate brigades in forward defensive sectors. The level of nondivisional support available in forward positions in this short time would vary from one national force to another. Many ofupport units arc located in rear areas, and their forwardprogress would depend largely on the amount of warning NATO had and their alert status al lhc lime the order to move was given. Nonetheless, most of theivisions would be expected to have their essential nondivisional innnnrt avatljblc.
Seventeen ofctive NATOtheVegl German, four US. and two French7 divisions--plus the three German airborneand three US separate brigades arc manned at roughlyercent of full strength. These could bepin moving out of garrisonatter of hours and. together wiih theirnondivisional support, probably would be in forward positions withinours.
The three British divisions in NATO'sArmyORTHlso couldploy forward with most of Iheir essential support, although at reducedelgian and Dutch forces in NORTH AG could deploy rapidly, but their corps sectors would be less well covered initially than (hose of Westthe US. and the UK. The Belgians maintain units which equate to one full division in Germany in peacetime, and these units would have lo moveilometers from iheir peacetime garrisons. The Dutch maintain only one reinforced brigade in West Germany, and adequate early coverage of the Dutch corps area would require temporarily shifting lhc German 3rd Armored Division into the area.
Mounting the full NATO defense along lhc West German border with the Pact would require from seven toays' mobilization and rcinforccmcnt-roughly the same tim' lhc Pact would need to organize itst the end of this pcqod. NATO probably could have
Two Ira rich dWIilnni uoItatloncdermany underbilateral ajreemeni.fcnch forctt
i" not underand have nnl airctdny
forwardurcertainty retardi al leati lhc Iwnn Weil Germany a< contilbutln* io NATO eepaMUllei.
8The Bnilah i iMiltU- would he
combat baiiallona thai ara located In HoriMia Ireland. Tneie -niii would requlra ai lean TI havn to leiuin In <
'thereumhet of poaalMefoeact hulldurj"lioiarihai-arclcppilCWd ermn iiimnMc nr'i
if lorec or someivisions and eight separate brigades, with their support units, in forward defensive areas.
Reforger units from the US-two brigades of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Division, ancavalryand several artillery units-arc the only additional NATOthat could support Initial combatThese units probably could not arrive in West Germany for at least two weeks, and they probably would not be capable of participating in combat operations for three to seven days upon arrival.
Peacetimeajor NATO Weakness. NATO's strategy of defendingarsnw Pact attack as close as possible to the eastern border of West Germany depends upon early availability of strong ground forces in forward positions. The strength of NATO's forward defenses iu the northern part of the Central Region is sharply reduced, however,hortagedily available brigades and by the limited antitank assets of the units involved.
Onlyf therigades assigned to NORTHAG are stationed in West Germany in peacetime. Of theissing brigades, nine arc Dutch and must be filled out throughin the Netherlands, then moved -together with divisional and nondivisional supilometers eastward. The three otherarc in Belgium. One of these is maintained at full strength and the other two at less thanercent of authorized waitimc strength. Moreover, one of the three Belgian brigades currently in West Germany is scheduled to return to Belgium soon.10
IOTo(ewer detree. ihe Pact'* Initial tomUt capabilities alto ate lettened by Ih* peacetime location at tome of IU rorcei. Pactforcei In Rail Germany are located relativelyheGerman border, hut IheolWh mrchanltedarmored dlvfclnna deallned for opera Hoot atalnil northern Germany and the Jutland Penlniul* and Ihe two Soviet dlvUlam In Poland would have lo moveo SCO l< Iht meters writ ftefnee launching, operations. Alio, four Ciechodovak and two Soviet dlvlilom are located In eastern Czechoslovakia,ilometer* from ihe Wen German border.
In addition. Dutch. Belgian, and British brigades, which comprise aboutercent of NATO's combat forces in NORTHAG, have relatively poor antitank capabilities. Yet these forcesarge part of the Pact's tank forces and have to defend some of the West German terrain more suitable for tank warfare. US and West German" units in central and southern Germany, on the other hand, have better antitank capabilities but are deployedegion less suited to armored operations.
The deployment problem in northerncould be mitigated by the greaterof the area and by improvements in the antitank cupabilitir-he forces that arc intended to defend it. Increasing congestion on the north German plain is making this area less suited for large-scale armored operations. And NATO countries, particularly Belgium, arelarge numbers of sophisticated antitank weapons to their forces there.
The peacetime disposition of NATO forces is based largely on nontactical considerations and isunction of present-day political and economic constraintsarryover from the postwar occupation zones. Reliance on anorth-south line of communication is dictated by dental to NATO of port facilities in France and of lines of communication across France into central and southern Germany.
These factors havearticularly strong influence on the location of US forces in southern Germany, where many US units arc garrisoned at installations that have existed since World War II. One division is stationed so far to the rear that its defensive zone would have to be covered initially by other units in the area. The vast urban growth in Germany since the war has'y reduced the space available to NATO forces io; training and, together wilh the high cost of building new garrisons, has also reduced the possibility of more favorablyUS forces.
Disposition of Units in NATO's Northern Army Group
fila/or Wcanim Systems. There lias been much modernization of Warsaw Pact ground forces over the past few years, and recently fielded Soviet weapon systems and equipment have tended to match those of the West in quality. The Pact's numerical superiority in most major ground force systems (see table I) is still tempered, however, by NATO's overall in technology and by differences in doctrine and force structure. With the size of its forces constrained by both economic andfactors. NATO has tended to rely on fewer but qualitatively superior weapon systems to counter (he Pact's numerical superiority. While the Soviets in some instancesrpassed the West wiih sophisticated application of on-thc-shelf technology, they have generally lagged behind the US and Western Europe inand applying new technology in most major ground force weapon systems, except forair defense systems. In the past, the Soviets looked to quantity to compensate for qualitative shortcomings. As more advanced weapons have been fielded, the Pact has not sacrificed its quantitative edge.
Tanks and Antitank Weapons. Soviet reliance on the tank istrengthotential weakness. The lank is the chief source of the Pact's preponderant ground force strength in Central Europe and would be the mainstayround offensive.'1 The Pact has twice as many tanks as NATO, and Soviet and East European divisions are generally more tank heavy, relative to their size, than their NATO counterparts. On the other hand, because the type of offensive that Pact planners envision In Central Europe is so dependent on the mobility and ?hock effect offered by large numbers of tanks, the Pact would be more vulnerable than NATOreakthrough in armor-defeating weaponsor tactics. Thus; NATO planners hove
fdetailed dWcnuInn nf Ihe role of iiinar In til Central Kurnoe.
Soviet Offrnitre Concept*: The) Rain ofOfli'f' GroundForcei.
sough! to counter the Pact's numerical ^Jvan-lagc iu armor with increasing numbers ot" highly sophisticated antitank weapons andefensive doctrine that is keyed to defeatingtank forces.
The current generation of tanks-the2 for the Pact, and the West German Leopard I, British Chieftain, Frenchnd0 series for NATO-offers neither side an overall qualitativeATO's inventory is relatively more modern, however. Modern tanks comprise less thanercent of the Pact tank force in Central Europe; nearly all East European forces still have thes.e other hand, modern tanks make up nearlyercent of NATO'sin the ?rea.
Although both the Pact and NATO are engaged in tank modernization programs, the bulk of each side's armor force probably will continue ir- be comprised primarily v' the current generation of tanks for the next few years.oviets began producing iheir2 tankomeears after initial deployment of2 is being deployed in Ihe USSR, andave been delivered to Soviet forces in Eastapparentlyeries tanks-which in turn have replaced obsolete heavy tanks.
Two new NATO tanks, the West German Leopard II and the US XM-I, are in the final stages of development. Scries production should begin in West Germany8 and in the USut these tanks will not appear in significant numbers until Ihe mid-eighties, by which time the Soviets could have delivered as manyo Central Europe. In the interim, several NATOhe Leopard I. and the Clucftuin-are beingwith many of the snme components that will be found in the new tanks: morefire control, including ballistic compiOcrs;
new suspension systems: laser range (hideis; Hiul new (iu^taliili/ed. armor-piercing ammiiuiliou. whichignificant improvement over older tank rouujs.
The two new NATO tanks probably will be superior to the newly deployed Soviet (anks, largely because of their advanced aimor. This armor will greatly increase protection against known Soviet antitank rounds, particularlyThe NATO tanks also have advanced stabilization, suspension, and fire-controlproviding an improved capability for firing while on the move and greater accuracy at long ranges.
2umber ofover its predecessor,argerew engine and suspension system, an automatic gun-loading system, andaser rangefinder. It also appears lo have improved ballistic protection, but probably not as much as lhat provided by lhc advanced armor on the new NATO tanks.
NATO appeals to be ahead of the Pact in developing and 'deploying anlitank weapons technology, especially "second general ion" antitank guided missiles (ATGMs),'* Theof ATGMs fielded has grown in recent years, especially in US and West German forces, and these weapons now comprisef NATO's larger inventory of majorsystems. In contrast to less thanercent of the Pact's.
The Pact, however. Is well nheaii of NATO in providing missile antitank protection for Its armored personnel carriersoviet- and Czechoslovak-made BMP infantry combatservice with ill Pact forces in Central Europeagger ATGM launcher, and some Czechoslovak and Polish APCs also are belicved to have ATGMs. The West Germans
i-iff!Midllllnrimarily hy (utdince nppoted In Ihrlo retrofit their Manicr mechanizedcombat vehicle (MICVl with the MILAN missile: some USPCs arc bring relro-filled wiih TOW ATGM launchers; and the new US MlCV-schedulcd lo be operational by the mid-eightics-willOW launcher.
Substantial additional procurement of ATGM systems is programmed over the next several years throughout NATO. Plans call for the Brit-ish to procure the MILAN, the Germans to purchaseTGM systems, thetoecond-generation ATGM systems, and the US to acquire the Mellfire laser-guided ATGM. In addition, both Westand the US will have begun fieldingattack helicopters by the early
The Soviets too haveew family of ATGM systems-some of which apparently have already been fielded. The antiquated Swatter ?nd Sagger missiles have beenIhe Swatter with infrared terminal homing and the Sagger with semiautomatic infrnred guidance. Three newer systemsan-portableong-range groundi-bunched system, and another long-range syslem for the Hind helicopter. The first Iwo sysiems piobably are already in use. and the third is likely to be opciationalll three systems probably employ semiautomatic guidance systems and may have bettercapabilities and accuracy. These developments may lessen, but are not likely to overcome, NATO's leati in these weapons.
The Soviets also are responding to NATO's improved antitank capabilities by revising tactics, by using artillery and motorizedunits to suppress or overrun anlilnnk de-
Miwi NATO and Tad hdlenpieri deployed Iniope-aieepind llrtvi ntwervallnnmount ATOMi. NATO hat an advaniace over Ihe Paei. however. In Ihe number nf ihe more advanced model* usedSCnhra (unahlpa tnoviet Kind helicopter*.
fi*MSt% uikJ by attemptingeduce lhc vulncra-I'itily of Unks lo antitank missiles, mainly by defeating Hie missiles' high -ex plosive antitank (HiiAT) warhead*.
Artillery. Soviet doctrine has traditionally stressed the role of artillery on the conventional battlefield, and the Pad now has in Central Europe more than twice as many artillery pieces as NATO. But again. NATO holds theedge. Although Soviet artillery has greaterNATO artillery is more accurate, is generally of larger caliber, and fires more advanced and effective ammunition.
In addition, more thanercent of NATO's artillery weapons arc self-propelled, versus aboutercent of the Pact's. Mostartillery weapons have armor-protected crew compartments and highthat enable them to withstand countcrfire better and to accompany rapidly adva. ring mechanized and armored maneuver units more easily and closely than towed artillery.
One area of Pact artillery superiority is in the large number of multiple rocket launchers (MRU deployed with their forces.reater range than most NATO artillery, have the capability toassive volume of firearge areahort time, and thus would be well .suited for coUntcrbat-tery fire or suppression of antitank defenses. In NATO, only West Germany has deployed MRLs with its forces.
Pact artillery doctrinereplanned, massed barrage, whicharticularly!effective tactic in nonnuclcar breakthrough operationseavy concentration of fire against relatively static defenses. In the highly fluid tactical environmentreakthrough, when speed, mobility, and fire-supportare critical, massed fire Is less effective. Under these conditions, NATO probably would have some advantage. lis artillery is highly mobile, und it has more sophisticatedsysiems which provide better accuracy through ndjusled rather lhan barratx fire and which stress aimed or observed fire rather than preplanned strikes.
The Soviets evJcntty also lag behind the US in advanced artillery munitions. They have only recently fielded ammunition with proximity fuzes, and there is no evidence that the Soviets have deployed equivalents to such US advances as rocket-assisted projectiles or have developed cannon-lauitched, laser-guided projectileshese types of artillery ammunition arc much more accurate at long range and make indirect antitank fire practical.
' Standardization. One of the major disparities between NATO am' Warsaw Pact forces lies In their relative levels of standardization. This is particularly apparent in ground-force weapon systems. Most major Pact weapon systems arc Soviet-made or arc produced by the East Europeans under Soviet license using basically Soviet designs. Such homogeneity reduces the cost of weapons and enables simplified logistic support.
NATO's general lack of standardization, most notably In equipment, tactical communications, and logistics, derives from the nature of the Alliance. Unlike the Pact, NATO is an amalgam of economically competitive states, most of which have highly developed arms Industries. Competition among armaments producers and national control over weapons procurement have led to duplication in researchTO and to loss of thegained from large production runs. Such competition has contributed to the high cost of research, development, and procurement and has resulted Jn the fieldingnricty of weapon systems that arc incompatible,In terms of ammunition and spare parts.
i, tit noi rrl drptoyed with US OfNATO
Another problem forrises from i'ilfirjlllcs in rapidly and effectivelyeralions among units of different nationalities because jf deficiencies in tactical communications. Language differences coin-plicate international military communications in any case, but variations in equipmeni,techniques, and frequency ranges heighten the barriers. Progress is being made, butof fully integrated tacticalis still far off.
Another serious impediment to NATOplanning under Ihe present force structure is the lackommon, integrated logistics system. Logistic support remainsilitary unit's parent government, and an allied commander could not be assured of logistic support anil supply of h'sforce by the host nation.
The Pact also lacks an integrated logistic systcm. Because of greater standardization, however, it could more easily shift the materiel of one national force to another and carry out other ad lux support measures. Attempts are being matte in both NATO and the Pact to improve logistic support through bilateralbetween national forces and host countries.
Competition and diversity are not ell to NATO's disadvantage, however, for Iheyto its technological lead. Competitive development of the West German Leopardnd USXM1 tanks, for example, will eventually give eachetter lank lhan either prototype. Warsaw Pact forces, for the most part, have to buy or'coproducc Sovietwjikoul such competitive evaluation.
ir and Air Defense Forces
SR. andesser extent Ihc rest of (tie Warsaw Pact, bus modernized Its air and air defense forces extensively in recent years.hi tactical air forces hnve enhnnced
the Pact's ability to conduct tin- large uir offensive in Ccnlial Europe that Pact planners consider critical to the successround offensive. Growth in Pact air defenses has increased the challenge lor NATO's air forces.
Tactical Air Forces. The continued influx of new and better Soviet tactical aircraft into Central Europe and the relatively slow pace of NATO air force modernization have narrowed NATO's qualitative advantage. Although NATO air forces still are generally superior in such areas us pilot training, munitions, and avionics.
NATO and Warsaw Pact Tactical Aircraft'
plus Three) Military Districts In Western USSR
Mitten at rtton-amance anctrlf
ot el no iKticelel wMch tn nMentd io unn*
(he Pactlessening two of NATO'srange and payloadmaintaining its numerical advantage.
Uul the Warsaw Pact's growing tactical air capabilities in Central Europe arc mitigated by several factors. The Pact's numerical advantage in aircraft in active units there (see figures cut significantly (fromoo I) if NATO aircraft capable of striking targets in Central Europe from bases outside the area are included in thehese other aircraft include those in the French tactical air force and British and US aircraft (includingtationed in the UK. On the Pact side. Frontal Aviation assets in the three westcrn'Sovict military districts would be included, but most of these would have to be relocated to bases in Eastern Europe to reach NATO targets. In addition, the Soviets have mote than SOO medium bombers in the western USSR that would be committed to operations against NATO evenonnuclcar war.
The range and payload characteristics ofSoviet fighter aircraft as thesec figurere distinctover those of older Soviet aircraftthose of thehcNATO ground attack aircraftin significant numbers inThe new Soviet aircrafl makeaboutercent of the total Pactthere, however, and NATO's tacticalstill can deliver the greater overall
The greatest potential weakness in NATO's air capabilities is the age of tactical aircraft in
irrma of cn.Tihai pfltcnllil-ia reflected hy total combat
n.'fifl livcril tv ll-r fact advantage aiml formidable.
The Pact hat an Inventory ofnmhal aircrafl In activeirilnma unlit, and In -totaie In Central Europe and ihe tve-tern USSK. NATOnut Inventory ofom hat aircraft In Centra) luropr, ihr UK, and trance.
'*Theayload advantage overSnvtel aircraft al diitaned up to ahoul .'SO nautical mllei.
Tactical Aircraft Radius/Payload Performance
BOMB PAYLOAD -
0 OMBAT RADIUS aaManl
non-US NATO forces. The US Air Forcein West Germany and the UK is comprised entirely ofhantom andespectively, and some ofs arc now being replaced by theighter. The bulk of NATO aircraft in non-US forces in Central Europe, however, is composed of older models such as. New aircraft thai will
cnicr NATO in veil loriesump iu technology uver currenl inou'cb, hut these will not be mailable in significant numbers until the early eighties. The number of new aircraft in the Tact's inventory will have grownby then.
The Soviets are flightew ground* attack aircraft with increased ordnance-delivery capabilities similar to theO. Initial deployment, which could begin byrobably will be limited to Eastunits in Central Europe and Soviet units in in the USSK.
Combat Readiness. Because of differences in aircraft range and basing patterns. NATO could direct more aircraft against enemy targets than could Ihe Pact wilhlnoours of an alert. After aboutouis of mobilization and redeployment, the Pact would pain numerical superiority in uircruft that were within range of enemy targets,oncurrent augmentation of NATO forces with aircraft from the US would hold (his Pact advantage to aboutercent.
Under normal pcucctimc conditions, no more thanercent of the Pact's air forces are kept in full combat readiness, primarily for air defense. To prepare for sustained offensive operations. Pact uir force units would require extensive preparations, including: -
Mobilization of some support personnel (Pact combat air regiments may be manned as low as an overageercent' of their wurlime strength).
Establishmentommand-ord-control nets, including forward-bused ground-eon-trolled intercept and navigation sites.
A buildup of POL ond munitions stocks from depots off base j'
Under wartime moblll/.utlon conditions, (he Puet prohaWy could deploy:
ircraft in Eastern Europe that are based well within range of NATO
i targets, The units to which they ua-ould be ready for sustained offensiveions withinours of notification.
ircraft iu Eastern Europe | tliut are bu<cd beyond the range of NATO
territory ond, along with ground-support equipment, wculd have to be moved to forward bases. Tins would require aboutoours,
actical aircrafl andground support that arc in the USSR's three western military districts. These would require aboutours to move to forward bases.
ircraft comprise the tactical uir strike force that probably would be targeted against NATO.oviet and East European tactical aircraft in Central Europe and the western USSR are believed to be designated for air defense missions.raining aircraft assigned to -ctivc units couldthese forces.
NATO's entire inventory of tactical aircraft intended for initial operations in Centralis based within striking range oforces In Eastern Europe. In response to the tlirc.itact incursion Into Western Europe. NATO could employ:
ircraft withinoursn Westn then Belgium and then Denmark,n France)-'1
'Anual-based US aircraft Ihat con be deployed lo predetermined bases in Europe from the US withino 48
k fnrm are noto NATO In peaeeHnw. and Ihrlr avallihlllir '" NATO wouldMaVcMaalha Irtnrti political
ircraft in the US designated for rapid reaction and as SACEUK reserves
that can be deployed withinours.
actical aircraft would comprise NATO's offensive and air defense capability in the Central Region rftcr immediateAlthough most NATO aircraft arc-likehantom-multipurpose, about two-thirds of those based within the theaterwould be designated for offensive missions, Thr- remainder would be for air defense and such other missions as reconnaissance. At least half ofS dual-biscd, rap id-reaction aircraft would be designated for offensive
Air Defense. Both NATO and the Warsaw Pact recognize the vulnerability of their grourd forces to air attack. Yet, possibly because'of NATO's longstanding emphasis on groundand the qualitative superiority of NATO's tactical air forces, the Pact has placed greater emphasis lhan NATO on air defense. The Pa-.'t air defense system is dense and technologically advanced and has helped to partially offset NATO grouud-ulfjck capabilities. Theof large numbers of highly mobi'e tactical SAMs also has lessened the groi 'ul forces' dependence on fighter aviation for battlefield air defense, thus freeing more aircraft for offensive toles.
NATO recently has come to recognize the weaknesses of its own battlefield air defenses in light of the improving ground-attacL capabilities of Pact air forces. It is introducing several new weapon systems designed to enhance both Ihe density and mobility of as battlefield air defense, particularly at low attitudes. ;
Tactical Nuclear forces
The mililary doctrine of both sides considersar in Europe-even if il began with conventional weapons only-coukl escalate to nuclear warfare. The Pact has placed fargrealcr emphasis than has NATO on passive defense and decontamination capabilities, out it is problematical how effective these preparations would beuclear war.
Developments under way in Soviet tactical nuclear forces have reduced, but notNATO's tactical nuclear advantage in Central Europe. Despite the slightly larger number of nuclear-capable aircraft and tactical missiles now present with Pact forces in Central Europe, NATOumerical andadvantage because it has nuclear rounds for much of its tube artillery (secATO gun crews arc qualified to handle nuclear rounds, and allminch) sclf-propcMcd howitzcrs-the bulk of NATO's artillery-are capable of firing nuclear rounds.
In Cenlrol Europe
KiiIikIci French Uciical nuclear tyitemi
1 All US ISS-mm howtiirn ind ?OVmmrvh) gun* can (iff nuclear prnfrctUri. batATO cv>ertified lornoctear mhalon
ATO and pnulhly as manyact aircraft anljtned in comhat unni are capable of dciWrlnft no- leaf ordnance.ATO nuclear-capable aircraft arcd In unlli lintuclear delivery loir In wartime.allma'rd that onlyad pilot* In Central Kumpr are qualified fnr noclrar weaporo delivery
The numerical advantage in delivery systems would swing loathe Pact, however, if forces based outside Central Europe but likely to be targeted against Central Europe were included in the balance. For the Pact, such forces would include ground force rocket and missile units and nuclear-capable tactical aircraft anddeployed in the western USSR and Ihe bulk of their strategic forces for peripheral attack. For NATO, potential theater assets include
I u'mli nuclear forces. British strike aire rail ami PolarisS aircraft based in Ihe UK. and some Poseidon submarines.
Despite Ihe Pact's potential advantage (healer-wide. Ihe availability of nuclear artillery provides NATOlexibility in ils (healer nuclear pfenning that the Pact lacks. Nuclear artillery weapons have distinct advantages over missiles und aircraft in reaction time, accuracy, and most important-low warhead yielo.similar low-yield systems, the Soviets would have either to tolerate limited NATO low->icldal strikes or respond in cscalatory fashion wiih larger yield sysiems.
Somprovements. The Soviets apparently have developed nuclear artillery munitions for heavy artillery pieces. Heavy artillery brigades, believed touclear mission and equipped primarily withm howitzersm mortars,en identified since the early seventies at several locations in theUSSR. The Soviets ore beginning to replace these weaponsew, heavy, self-propelled howitzer and mortar. Heavy artillery has no( been identified in Central Europe, however, ond there is no convincing evidence (hat the Soviels have developed nuclear rounds for their widelym weapons.
Soviet tactical nuclear capabilities will be enhanced with the dep'oyment -apparently already under way in theew missile (theo replaceocket u( divisional level. Theffers significant advantages over theuch ns increased range, accuracy, and mobility. Ils deployment with Soviet units in Central Europe will permit Ihe iransfei ofo won-Soviel Pad forces to replace even older systems in these forces
The Soviels also are improving theirnuclear strike fore s. They are expected to begin deploying this year theultiple-warhead, mobile system lhat is k'ss
vulnerable and more accurate than Ihendissiles it will replace. The Backfire bomber now being depmyed in the USSR also enhances Soviei conventional and nuclear strike capabilities, especially against targets deep within heavily defended areas of WesternUnlike the obsolescent Badger and Blinder bombers thai comprise Ihe bulk of Soviet Long Range Aviation, the Backfire is designed lo fly al low altitudes,upersonic dashand probably is equipped with moreelectronic countemieasures against enemy air defenses.
NATO Force Im/'nncmcts. NATO hasto the Soviet advances bysignificant improvements lo its ownnuclear forces. For example, the number ofII aircraft stationed in the UK is being doubled. The new aircraft ares. which are less versatile in the nuclear delivery role. NATO's nuclear strike capabilities Will be further improved by the replacement in tlte early eighties ofircraftuclear-capable version ofhich has greater range and payload. better avionics, and more maneuverability, and by British and West German deployment of the nuclear-cvable MRCA (multhole combat aircraft).
NATO's ground-based tactical nuclearwill be Improved substantially by lhc deployment of the US Lance tactical missile with West German. Belgian, und British ibfCCt In the Central Region. This program will be completed next year. The Lunce. which has already replaced. Honest John roekels in US units In Germany, is much superior loSoviet systems, especially In accuracy and range.
France, too. Is continuing to upgrade ils nuclear forces, ll has deployedaunchers for the Pluion tactical missile, which is similar to the US Lance, and is expected lo add sixourth ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) is
ifth is under construction,ew class of SSBNs apparently has been funded. The French atsoultiple-warhead missile under developmenl for their SSUN fleet.
Chemical Warfare Capabilities
The capability of the Warsaw Pact to conduct ground force operationsoxic chemical environment is superior to that of NATO. Some analysts believe that this dispurity and the potential ad/antage of the surprise use of chemical weapons could lead Soviet planners to use such weaponsonventional conflict. Others believe that, given NATO's relatively poor defenses against chemical strikes, Soviet planners probably would view the use ofweaponsonnuclcar environment asATO nuclear response. In any case, chemical weapons arc classed in Soviet doctrine with nuclear weapons as "weapons of massnd the employment of toxic chemicals would requireecision at the highest political
Pact chemical planning emphasizes bothand rapid decontamination, and combat units down to regimental level hjvc organic chemical defense units capable ofull range of reconnaissance andsupport.
NATO troops ere supplied with individual protective equipment, and most NATO armored vehicles, like those of the Pact, have collective filtration systems providing protection against toxicATO forces do not engage in
'"Th- 'UA-huIll Mill iimor-d pirannnil cirrlcr pi"iini
USUfllt IN ('"
extensive training under simulated CBRhowever, and their overall defensive capability against chemicals particularly in the area of decontamination-is limited. Only the US and West Germany have chemical defense uni's capable of performing more than marginal reconnaissance and decontamination at division and corps levels. At brigade and lower levels. NATO has almost no capability for extensive decontamination.
The Soviets haveariety of toxic chemical agents and tho tactical doctrine for their use. Although numerous facilities in the USSR have produced and stored toxicthere is little evidence upon which touantitative eslimate of offensive capabilities. There is good evidence the Soviets have stocks of chemical agents in Eastern Europe, but wc do not know the amount stored there.
NATO's offensive chemical capability is limited primarily to nontoxic agents. Only France and the US maintain toxic chemical munitions stockpiles. The French have storage facilities for toxic agentsunitions stockpile of uqknown size. The US has roughly
of toxic agents in usable form
illed munitions and sprayf whichr* "lions are deployed in artillery shells
The balance of military power in Central Europc-espccially as it contributes tothere-is not fragile. Any significant shift in this balance wouldajor change cither in the quality of weapons fielded by one side or In the numerical force ratios. Except for the political collapse of one sideapid unilateral military buildupravecrisis,hift in the balance almost certainly would occur only gradually over the long term-thus Increasing Ihc possibility of long warning time.
The rcuctiun by either side to important shifts in Ihe bilance-even if such shiftsbe tempered in various ways by the political-economic background. For example, much of the Soviet modernization effort in Europe took place while the US was preoccupied with the war in Southeast Asia.
The size und structure of both sides' forces have been relatively stable over the pasl few years; changes In the balance have resulted almost exclusively from qualitative gains arising from the application of improved technology. Soviet and East European forces facing NATO in Central Europe have not been expanded .stmeturally (no divisions or brigades have been added)hen the Sovietsive-division garrison in Czechoslovakia after intervening there.
Similarly, there have been few significant structural changes and almost no increase in manpower in NATO forces since theixties. Two new US combat brigades are being added iu Germany, but this is being accompaniedorresponding reduction in support troops there. The Germans also have added three brigades lo fill out three understrength
Several developments, however, have the potential of altering (he balance of forces in Central Europe to the Warsaw Pact's advantage. Chief among Ihese arc the actual andimprovement* in Soviet theater nuclear forces and in Pact ground and tactical air forces,lagging or the defense effort on the part of some NATO countries.
Tactical Nuclear Forces
Among the most significant of the recent changes in Pact forces in Europe is the increased capability of iheir tactical nuclear forces.of additional tactical nuclear missile launchers and tactical nuclear delivery aircraft since the late sixties has given Ihemall numerical advantage over NATO In IbrtfNATO stillumerical superiority and some qualitative advantage in tactical nuclear weapons, however, by virtue of its exclusive possession of nuclear artillery rounds -deployed in Central Europe. These weapons-with their low yields and high accuracy-give NATO artillery the capability to provide close, responsive battlefield support to engaged ground force-units.
This monopoly is likely to be broken in the next few years, however. At the samearge part or the deterrent value of battlefield artillery will be lost because evenew. nuclear artillery pieces the Pact could respond to NATO use without Uie potentially cscalatory use of larger yield system.*.
While conceding Ihc Pact an advantage in most measures of conventional ground and air forces, military analysts have long considered that NATOechnological lead which offset Ihul advantage. TlVftdi have emerged over Ihc past several years, however, which suggest thai the Pad is reducing its technological handicap. Recently introduced Sovietdesigned in the mid-to-late sixties is in many respects as sophisticated and effective us currently deployed NATO equipment. IJocause the new equipmeni is replacing older, less
Ciip.iM' ci|ui|*iiKtil un .ii leasl ouo-for-ouclechmilocicnl improvements have thus farcwl al lhc cxpvtwe ol" force levels.
I'liis pattern is mosi prominent in ilie Incttcnl air lorccs. where the destabilizingreatest. Newer Soviet aircrafl being deployed lo Central Europe far outperform the models Ihev are replacing. Although they cannot match NATO's current aircraft in such things as avionics and ordnance, and although NATO has superior pilots, the new aircraft are so improved over previous Pact aircraft as to raise doubts about NATO's ability to uiulinuc its airby pitting quality against quantity. The balance of air power will be at issue over theliw years, as the Pact deploy* more of itsucr.ttion aircraft bul before new NATO aircrafl. such as IhcO, ami MRCA, arc introduced in sig*ific;mt numbers in the early eighties.
The evolution of Pact ground forces has been as pronounced as. und more publicized than, thai of the tactical air forces. Since the late sixties, the Soviets haveomplete new generation of ground force equipment, ranging front tanks, self-propelled artillery, und air defense weapons Io sophisticated electronics and support equipment. Again, the introduction of improved equipment brought no decrease in the number of weapons deployed. The Soviets apparently intend to maintain their numerical advantage as they make qualitative
As with lactical uir Torccs, Ihe ground force balance almost certainly will shift in favor of the Pact for at least the next few years. NATO has heller equipment under development than the Soviets arc deploying, but the NATO equipmeni has nut yel been fielded, whereas much of the Soviei equipment with which it is compared has been in service for several years. Thend Leopard II, for example, appear to Ik* far superior toul, depending on production andloymcnl patterns, the SovL-ts could deliver as manyo Central Europe before the new NATO lank* are fielded in significant numbers.
Economic pressures arc likely to havereater impact on NATO's military capabilities than on those of the Pact. Both alliances apparently arc feeling the competition for resources between (he military und (he civilian economy. Growing pressure in the Eastcountries to move further and fasteronsumer-oriented society could force leaders of these countries lo reexaminelint the Soviets almost certainly will keep pressure on Iheir allies to sustain their defense efforts. While economic pressures may slow modernization efforts-particularly with the Easl European forces-it is doubtful lhal such pressures will be allowed to cause anydiminution in Pact force levels.
Several NATO allies, on Ihe other hand, have already responded to economic and political pressures hy reducing their forcealbeit with little impact on NATO's military capabilities thus far. What is more important In the long run. however, is (he tendency on the part of some NATO allies to make unilateral force cuts-un example being Belgium's plan to withdraw from the NATO air defense belt-whicheducedcommitment to the common defense.
Recently several NATO countries pledged lo increase spending to arrest the continuing decline in their conventional forces* capabilities relative to those of the Pact. Even if these pledges arc kept. It willew years before any Increased expenditures can he translated into more capable forces iu the field.
A Continuing Balance
Despite these perceptible shifts of ihe force balance in Cent ml Europe iu the Pact's favor.
Ihe ability of NATO's mililary forces Ihereeter conflict does noi seem to be immediately threatened. The Pact's numerical advantages and qualitative gains must be viewed in the context of its own perception of need, as dictated by its political and economic weakness, and its self-imposed requirement to be ready lo attack, not merely defend. Many of the Pact's Improved weapons have not been deployed In largeand thus cannot yet be said to give therue technological advantagr over NATO. And future Pact technological gains will be slow. Even if the Soviets began deploying nuclear artillery in Central Europe immediately, for example, they probably would need several years to develop the doctrine, storage, handling procedures, (raining, and slock of nuclear rounds needed to match NATO's capability with nuclear artillery.
Future changes in the oalaucc of forces in Central Europe probably will continue lo be marked by qualitative, noi quantitative, gains, thus offering NATO the opportunity to take advantage of its more advanced technological bases. As noted. NATO is preparing loew generation of more sophisticated weapons, and. although history has shown lhat the West docs not always fully translate its technological advantage into fielded weaponry, it has never lost its overall lead.
In sum. for at least the next few years. Soviet planners will continue to be faced both with what they see ns an impressive NATQynefcnse that they could not count on defeating und with uncertainly aboul whether the strategic forces of both ?idcs could he divorcedar in Europe.
The most serious results of the shift in the balance of forces In Central Europe could arise from both sides' perception of that evolving balance. Thererowing but largelyimpression in thehat the vigorous, ongoing Soviet modernization efforiajor conventional arms buildup which has caused the balance to shift radically. Some parliamentarians might believe that the Pact has pulled so far ahead in conventional forces thai il is not economically or politically feasible for NATO to Iry to catch up. They would argue that it is useless, therefore, for NATO to spend money on conventional forces, and Ihai the alliance should return lo lhc massive retaliation doctrine of the fifties to deter Pact aggression. But. given the Soviei achievement of nuclear parity, the "tripwire" doctrine has even less credibility now than when il was discarded.
Moreover, should it become widely accepted that (he balance has dramatically shifted, it could depress NATO confidence and in turn increase Soviet asscrlivcncss. Such acould ultimately increase the riskhrough Soviet miscalculation.
author of this paper U
. Office o] Strategic Researck Comments and queries are welcome and should he directed lo
Peacetims Deployment of Major NATO and Pact Com
MEMORANDUM FOR: Recipients of CIA Report SR Errata
I. Recipients ofhe Balance of Force* ln Central Europe, arc requested to note the following corrections:
it 0 sc,cond sentence of footnotechould read: "NATO has on advantage over the Pact, however, in the number of the moro advancedn an antiarmorS Cobra-TQW helicopters tooviet Hind ATGM hclicoptefs.
an "Peacetime Deployment of Maior NATO and Pact Combat Units" r- the last page of the
h?uU bewith the attachedcontains corrected unit